The Listening: Ludacris, Game, T.I., Kanye

If anything, this has been a year of top name releases in mainstream hip hop, with one heavyweight after the other dropping marquee-style albums they all seem to hope will be game changers for them. Earlier in the year, we had Lil Wayne making his superstar status official (pity he hasn’t been up to much that makes sense since), Nas frustratingly delivering unconvincingly on an ambitious promise, and Young Jeezy upping the ante as a convincing rap star.

Now is the season to be jolly, of course, and come recession or high water, we have been flooded with big records from the rest of the biggest names: The Game, Ludacris, T.I. and Kanye West. The only ones missing from that list, I guess, are Jay-Z and Chamillionaire, and they’re excused by having dropped albums last year. I couldn’t be less interested in how many units these people move — they’re probably doing reasonably well, all things considered — but kind of wanted to check the pulse on the tottering behemoth that is mainstream rap, in terms of, well the quality of the music they’ve released.

Shoeman the Human

I know it’s been everywhere today, but I just can’t resist posting it. There’s something fitting to the fact that presumably one of the last memorable images of the lame duck president is him having a pair of shoes thrown at him in a small room. I mean, what could be more pathetic? Well, I guess if he had been hit, but his impressive duck is rather fun in itself. Poignant even.

Den japanske forbindelse

Når tegneserierne i disse år også herhjemme så småt er ved at finde fodfæste på parnasset, skyldes det i ikke ringe grad den massive indflydelse, som japansk kultur i almindelighed : og japanske tegneserier og :film i særdeleshed : har haft på de seneste årtiers kulturelle output i Vesten. Mangaens egenartede æstetik og emblematiske dynamik har vundet indpas i alt fra billedkunsten til musikvideoen, og har ikke mindst sat sine spor i måden, hvorpå tegneserier undfanges og opfattes på disse breddegrader. Den 8. oktober slog kunstmuseet Louisiana i Humlebæk dørene op for en stort anlagt udstilling, der på fornem vis både tegner de historiske konturer af en udtryksforms udvikling, og sætter fokus på den nutidige krydsbestøvning der finder sted indenfor andre billedmedier.

Picks of the Week


The picks of the week from around the web.

Slightly slim pickings this week, owing to the fact that I’ve been on internet-free holiday. I do however have these recommendations for you:

  • Warren Craghead: “A Flame Expelled.” Top Shelf hosts this short lyrical comic from one of the most compelling experimental comics makers at the moment.
  • Prospect: “A Second Tulip Mania”. Great, sarcastic article on the boom and bust of the contemporary art market of the last decade or so, even if the conceit of the title is a little obscure. (Thanks, Dirk).
  • Format: This is pretty funny, if rather silly. If you’re a hip hop head, check it out: 20 more or less classic covers recreated in Lego…
  • Ny fond for danske tegneserietegnere

    Foreningen af danske tegneserieskabere har pga nye regler vedrørende uddeling af Copy-Dan midler stiftet en fond, der har til hensigt at støtte tegneserietegnere og -forfattere økonomisk. Af foreningens hjemmeside fremgår det, at “støtten hovedsagelig skal uddeles som arbejdslegater til danske tegneserieskabere, men kan også i mindre omfang uddeles som støttebeløb til tegneseriefaglige seminarer, varetagelse af serieskaberes retslige interesser, principielle retssager og formidling af ophavsretlige spørgsmål. Arbejdslegaterne udgør minimum 75% af de uddelte, årlige støttebeløb“. Ansøgningerne vurderes og behandles af et tremandsråd bestående af Lars Horneman, Jan Kjær og Peter Kielland-Brandt. Flere oplysninger samt ansøgningsskema findes på Foreningens hjemmeside.

    Gérard Lauzier 1932-2008

    I remember a film critic who once compared Robert Altman’s Gosford Park to Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (Regle du jeu). The critic found each film more or less equal in terms of ambition, craftsmanship and themes, but nevertheless argued that one was clearly superior to the other. To that particular critic, the question was easy to answer — since Altman and Gosford Park displayed a cold-hearted misanthropy compared to the warm and embracing humanism of Renoir, The Rules of the Game won.

    Back then, I thought long about this matter. Was it really fair to evaluate things that way? Surely, I knew that film studies and criticism aren’t exactly objective matters, but still: just like that, stating that humanism is a richer and better artistic value than misantropy? Sympathetic, but, well, hmm…

    Well, Gérard Lauzier — who regrettetly passed away on december 6th, after a long illness — is one example that challenges this perception pretty strongly.

    Stranger in an Un-Strange World: An interview with Brad Neely

    Having forgotten to ask Brad Neely for permission to use his work as illustration, we must make do with a sketch of the man himself.

    Brad Neely’s drawings work, because you read them in an instant.

    The images tend to move, but Neely isn’t really an animator. His drawings are all single instances, flashing by, at a pace that’s slower than ordinary film, but still fast enough to keep you focused.

    And as he piles on layers of madness and weird moves : George Washington eating brains, snorting cocaine, making rough love to bears and radiating gamma all in the span of one brief video cartoon : you absorb all of it, cause every panel’s done just right.

    Brad Neely provided the headline. He is at once cartoonist, musician and video director, and strange and hilarious creations emerge from his pen and brow. In this interview he talks about his characters, how he fleshes out the world surrounding them, and how he works as an artist.

    First up: How come videos?

    The big steps in my life are blind. I’ve never really considered my videos to be “videos.” I’ve always wanted to make movies, but I was poor, unconnected and uneducated about the process. So, I couldn’t make movies, and I lacked the discipline to draw real comic books in a professional sense. Somehow I found a place in-between that I could afford and control by myself. It’s a bastardized process, but it works. I guess.

    Like a lot of people I came across your work when I saw the Washington video. It’s funny, and then after a while you realize that the song’s a hit. Is that how you get inspired : by writing songs and then illustrating them?

    Yes. Some of the time. Music is a great starting point. Sometimes I start with an overall feeling, an abstract place that I want the piece to evoke. Music sometimes is the right tool to use first. Sometimes it’s the pace of the language; sometimes I want to try for plot. With intention I have a lot of options.

    RIP Party Arty

    I was never a fan of Party Arty of the NYC crew Ghetto Dwellas, who sadly passed away a few days ago due to undisclosed health complications. An long-time affiliate of the legendary conglomeration Diggin in the Crates (D.I.T.C.), I first heard him on Show and AG’s Goodfellas, and he was pretty much the fly in the ointment of an otherwise great record (don’t take it from me, judge for yourself how he compares with AG here). And I saw him more or less ruin a joint performance, again with AG, at D.I.T.C. don Lord Finesse’s 40th birthday party at SOB’s a few years back. He was basically yelling his lyrics hoarsely into the mic, as had always been his wont, and AG, who is normally ultra tight on the mic, apparently felt he had to follow suit. Bleh.

    Over the years, however, I guess he did develop decent freestyle chops. OK, it’s written material performed a cappella, but he still holds his own against New York freestyle phenomenon Murda Mook here. And in any case, it’s real sad to see him go. Rest in peace P80.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • The New York Times: Bill Ayers responds. Op-ed piece from the recently much-maligned former Weatherman Bill Ayers. Succint and to the point, with plenty of things to disagree with. The comments section by the way contains some excellent discussion.
  • A couple of great comics links. “The Fourth Dimension Is a Many-Splattered Thing” (1957) is a Jack Kirby foray into the world of modernist art. The story’s totally lame, but dig those visuals. “Flesh and Blood Comics” is a recent effort from master cartoonist R. Crumb, and it’s freaking great, melding as it does crazy visuals reminiscent of his 60s work with the wise old man concerns of his recent work. Not to be missed. (Thanks, Tom).
  • du9: Quality commentary on the imminent abandonment of fixed-book pricing in the French-language book market and on the awards season on the cultural scene, with focus on comics, in the same place.